But the post misses an important point about Bible translation. It is that the original biblical texts did not use obsolete or archaic language. Instead, they used the current language of the people to whom those texts were written. If Bible translators are to be fully accurate to the original texts, it is necessary for them to use the same kind of language found in the original text, namely, good quality literary language of the people for whom a translation is made. Translating in a different literary register from what the biblical texts were written in is not fully accurate translation. It diminishes the communicative accuracy of the translation since the translation does not communicate the meanings of the biblical texts as accurately and clearly to Bible users today as those original texts did.
The ESV post also claims:
We’ve mentioned before that the ESV Preface notes that the ESV “retains theological terminology… because of their central importance for Christian doctrine and also because the underlying Greek words were already becoming key words and technical terms in New Testament times.”I have heard this claim before, that "the underlying Greek words were already becoming key words and technical terms in New Testament times" but I have never seen any evidence for this claim. I, personally, do not know of any terms used in the New Testament which were technical terms or becoming so. The vocabulary in the New Testament is from Koine (Hellenistic) Greek and was in common use, known to common (Koine) speakers. This includes words such as dikaiosune which is translated as "righteousness," a technical term in English, but not in the original Greek, and other Greek words translated to English terms such as "santification," "propitiation," "predestine," etc.
It suggest that those who make the claim that there are technical terms in the biblical source texts are using circular reasoning:
What is needed, to help us break out of circular reasoning, is empirical demonstration from ancient Greek that the meanings of the purported technical terms of Koine Greek had taken on special senses not known to those outside of the church of the New Testament. As far as I know, such evidence has never been presented. It is simply repeated, which, of course, is not evidence to support a claim.
- Technical terms are used in their English versions.
- Because they are technical terms in English, they are believed to reflect underlying technical terms in Greek.
- Therefore, technical terms should be used in English Bible versions.
I contend that since the Greek words were in common usage, Bible translators today should use English words which are in common usage to translate them. This is possible, but we often allow centuries of theological and church tradition to keep us from translating in such a way. May we return to the principles of Martin Luther and William Tyndale who believed it was important to translate into the language of the ordinary person, the hausfrau (housewife), as Luther said it, and the ploughboy, as Tyndale said it. If we translate into Koine English, corresponding to Koine Greek, not only will unchurched people understand the Bible better, but church people will also. In fact, my own experience as someone who has quite a lot of theological training, including being taught the definitions of theological words such as "sanctification," is that my heart and mind respond better to Bible versions which are written in good literary English which I use outside of church. The mental processing burden is less for anyone when they hear the Bible in their own language.
Categories: obsolete, archaic, ESV, technical language, theological terms